Jewish Voice for Peace Condemns Escalation of Violence in Middle East
Calls for U.S. to Support Joint Ceasefire, End its Support of Occupation
[Oakland, March 6, 2008] Earlier this week, American peace group Jewish Voice for Peace expressed outrage at the terrible loss of life in the latest escalation of violence in the Middle East in Gaza and Sderot. We also called for an immediate joint ceasefire, and an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza, which has barred food, medical supplies and fuel from an already desperately poor and malnourished 1.5 million Palestinians.
Today, we mourn the loss of 8 students at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva in Jerusalem.
Jewish Voice for Peace believes the loss of just one person is one life too many. There is no difference in the immeasurable heartache felt by the parents of dozens of children killed in Gaza last week, or the parents of the 8 students killed yesterday in Jerusalem. All killings must stop.
As long as there is occupation and the brutality and violence it entails, we will mourn Israeli and Palestinian lives. In this context, media coverage that portrays violence as part of a short-term cycle of attack and retaliation obscures the facts, including the role the US has played, through covert action, in fomenting civil war in Gaza, as recently revealed by a groundbreaking report in Vanity Fair. As long as the United States continues to support Israel's decades-long practice of illegally appropriating land, destroying homes, and using disproportionate force--a policy which has proven to be both morally bankrupt and self-destructive for Israel--neither Palestinians nor Israelis will ever know peace.
This latest tragedy also highlights the way in which the Israeli government has either allowed or encouraged its own citizens to be woven into the fabric of occupation. The Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva is the birthplace of Gush Emunim, one of Israel's rightwing settler movements. Human rights groups have documented how the group systematically assaults Palestinians, destroys their crops, and attacks children on their way to school.
Today, Our House of Representatives passed an irresponsible and one-sided resolution H.Res 951 that will only perpetuate the cycle of violence by ignoring the basic human rights of Palestinians. We call on the U.S. government to stop supporting Israel's illegal occupation and to pressure Israel to negotiate with Hamas, to facilitate an immediate mutual ceasefire and end to the siege on Gaza.
A just and lasting peace is possible. A new poll conducted by Tel Aviv University shows that 64% of Israelis favor talks with Hamas. Talking to Hamas is the first step towards peace for both peoples.
About Jewish Voice for Peace
Founded in 1996, Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots peace organization dedicated to promoting a US foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights and respect for international law.